Indian Army has started field trials of the M777 Howitzer guns that it is acquiring from BAE Systems. According to ANI, the Indian Army has begun the field trials at the Pokhran range of Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district. The M777 Howitzer guns will be a formidable addition to the Indian Army’s arsenal. According to PTI, the M777 howitzers would be deployed along the India-China border. It would be used by the new mountain strike corps being raised in Panagarh, West Bengal. The acquisition of these Howitzers also assumes significance because this is the first such deal after the infamous Bofors scandal of the 1980s.
Talking about the importance of the M777 deal, Ankur Gupta, Vice President- Aerospace & Defence at Ernst Young India had earlier told FE Online, “This is the first major artillery procurement that has successfully been completed in over three decades. Coupled with the previously signed Chinook contract, our force preparedness levels in the Eastern sector will be significantly enhanced over the coming decade.”
Watch now! Test-firing from the powerful M777 during field trials
According to the Indian Express, these guns have been “designed for firing Indian ammunition in Indian conditions”. The M777 Howitzer is a 155mm 39 calibre towed gun. It is portable by sea, air and land. For India, this means that the system can be deployed with greater ease. This especially fits well with the Indian Army’s acquisition of the Chinook helicopter, which can easily air-lift the M777. The gun has a maximum unassisted range of 24.7 km and an assisted range of 30 plus km.
Under the Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ push for the defence sector, BAE Systems has tied up with the Mahindra group to assemble the guns in India. However, as part of the agreement, 25 ready-to-use M777s will be supplied by the foreign OEM (BAE) in a span of two years. The first batch, consisting of two guns, arrived in May this year. The rest 120 guns will be assembled here. Indian Express has further reported that the next batch of 3 M-777 guns will arrive by September 2018. That will be used for training soldiers. Subsequently, 5 guns will be inducted every month from the period March 2019 to June 2021.